Gray clouds that had hung low in the November sky all day finally rolled away shortly before sunset. The blue sky looked gorgeous. Golden sunshine poured through the living room windows. Its Warm rays lapped across the room’s carpet, sofa and half way up the wall. Sitting on the sofa and blinded by the sun’s sudden brilliance, my husband Arnie folded the newspaper and set it aside.
I walked into the room and commented, “Have you ever noticed how when we have an overcast day, it often clears right before sunset?” The sunlight made Arnie’s black hair and ruddy skin fairly glow, as if he were on stage. Snuggling up next to him on the sofa, I said with admiration, “I love how your eyes look in bright sunshine. Ordinarily, they’re a light brown, but right now they look golden, like tiger eyes.”
Arnie responded, “Right now this tiger is hungry. When will you have supper ready?”
Leaning back on the sun-warmed sofa cushions, I lifted my chin and wailed, “That wasn’t a very romantic thing to say when I just gave you a compliment!”
My husband glanced at me and then leaned in for a closer look. I dropped my chin, but before I could ask what he was looking at, he ordered, “Put your head back again.” Taking a second look, he demanded, “Did you know you have one big, black hair growing out of the underside of your chin?”
There was a long-suffering look in her eyes and a grim, resolute set to her lips. Arthritis had made her joints knobby and her fingers twisted. I didn’t think she looked very dependable. I informed her, “I need you to wash my windows.”
The old lady sighed, and after a moment of silence whined, “Why don’t you ask me cook a meal for you instead? I don’t want to wash windows.”
I exclaimed impatiently, “Look, I know it isn’t fun to wash windows, but winter is coming. Dust, cobwebs and fly specks need to be washed off the glass. I want the windows sparkling clean so we can enjoy watching the beautiful first snow falls and birds coming to eat at the feeders.”
She replied, “Washing windows makes my hands and shoulders hurt. Also, I’m not as strong as I used to be. Some of the windows stick. What if I can’t put the windows back together after they’re washed?”
These were valid concerns. After a moment of deep thought, I announced, “Start with the easy windows. In the past, you washed every window in the house all in a day’s time. Just do a few windows today. Maybe tomorrow or the day after you can do a couple more. If you are unable to put the windows back together, it isn’t the end of the world. We’ll just wait until someone who can do it for us comes for a visit. Now, get to work!”
He sat in the corner of the living room on the davenport, watching me, his wrinled face glowing from the light of the lamp. I plopped down on the cool gray linoleum and began to roll around acting silly. Mama stepped into the room to scold, “Kathy, stop showing off.”
Who was that man? In my mind he was someone important. The gray fog of forgetfulness fills my mind until the next memory.
I stood in front of the table in our eat-in kitchen. Mama was behind me at the stove preparing our meal. Daddy stood at the entryway door, holding it open as an old man on crutches entered. Suddenly, a crutch slipped on the linoleum and the man fell with a crash.
Something bad had happened. I wasn’t sure what, or even who the man was. The gray fog of forgetfulness fills my mind until the next memory.
Something prompted me to crawl out of the bed I shared with a sister. Wandering into the living room I crawled up onto the davenport. The dark house didn’t scare me. Feeling cold, I felt around for something to crawl under. What I found was thin and not very warm. I looked toward the front door window where the Christmas tree stood. The night sky was pale blue and I saw the shadowy outline of the tree.
A large, yellow and black bumble bee hopped from one catnip blossom to the next. I scanned the garden, happily breathing in its lovely, earthy smell. The unseasonably warm weather made the greenhouse garden look as if it was September. Nothing was frost damaged. In the first row, beautiful fat chrysanthemum bushes bloomed in, yellow, purple, and rust. The lavender plant, red and white geraniums, pink petunias and red tea roses were all blooming as if it was a summer day.
Whenever I had time the last week or two, I’d worked at preparing the garden for the winter. One day I pulled up the beans and cucumbers. On another day I took down the cucumber support fence and pulled up the pink flowering buckwheat. Today, I planned to dig my sweet potatoes and pick cherry tomatoes.
Progress is slow because my left knee has been hurting, and I’m a firm believer retired people should never be rushed. Out of necessity I’ve learned to work while sitting on a garden stool. Placing the stool firmly next to the first vined plant, I sank down on the seat. Not wanting to damage the irrigation line, I carefully inserted a small shovel into the ground alongside the sweet potato and pried up. Letting go of the shovel, I gathered all the vines near the loosened soil and pulled.
First came the disappointment. There were no large tubers attached to the stem, then came the frustration. The plant had long vines intertwined with every other sweet potato vine in the garden. Why I have a long-held dislike of digging potatoes came rushing back to me. It’s hard work with a low satisfaction rate.